Patchy home form in the 2009 Caf Champions League cost KCCA FC $400,000 (about Shs 1b) , the minimum amount received by teams that make it to the quarter final stage after. They were eliminated 2-1 on aggregate by El Merreikh in the second round after losing the home tie 1-0.
Despite managing to avenge that elimination, the team’s poor home form in the competition continued on Saturday as they went down 2-1 to the Sudanese club in the return leg of the Caf Champions League preliminary round at Namboole. With a 3-2 aggregate win, the loss was the club’s third in their last four Caf Champions League games.
Like in 2009 against Ferroviário Maputo, it was the away result that helped the Lugogo side progress to the first round.
“We lost the tie during the first leg in Sudan,” admitted Merreikh coach Michael Kruger after the game at Namboole.
With a 2-0 lead from the first leg, the home team started brightly with Ivan Ntege getting the game’s first shot on target after three minutes. Shortly after wards, Tony Odur capitalised on poor defensive play by Ali Gafar to lob the ball past the advancing Akram Elhadi for a seventh minute lead.
Trailing 3-0 on aggregate, rather than being deflated, the away side grew in confidence. A poor headed clearance by captain Fahad Kawooya landed on the feet of Ahmed Albasha. The lanky forward controlled with one touch before wrapping his right foot around the ball for an exquisite 25 yard shot that hit the underside of the crossbar.
For large periods after the break, the visiting team dominated possession with Shemells Bekele missing a couple of decent chances as Merreikh sought more goals.
Their efforts were soon rewarded when Burundian referee Thierry Nkurunziza pointed to the spot in the 70th minute after Habib Kavuma fouled Balla Gabir.
As in the first leg, Salim Magoola saved the penalty, taken this time by Mohamed Traoré but the Malian forward was on hand to turn the ball past him on the rebound after the home defense failed to clear their lines.
The much needed third goal did not arrive for Merreikh as KCCA held on to qualify for the first round where KCCA COACH George Nsimbe is hoping his side’s form will take a turn for the better.
“It was a disappointing result and we will seek to address that issue but the most important thing is that through,” he said after the game.
They face Nkana FC in the next round with the Zambian champions hosting the first leg in Kitwe on the weekend starting February 28 -March 02.